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Art by Clark Miller
Art by Clark Miller

‘We All Have One Big Dream’: How Ukraine’s Tech Companies Evolved to Survive a Year of War

Nothing could have prepared six Ukrainian startup leaders for the Russian invasion last February. But one year later, each has found novel ways to stabilize—and even grow—their businesses.

Art by Clark Miller
Feb. 17, 2023 9:00 AM PST

For an average startup founder, dealing with the unexpected and unknown is an everyday reality. But in February 2022, the Ukrainian tech community encountered a disruption of unfathomable proportions. Nearly overnight, reality flipped the table on investors’ meetings, funding rounds and expansion plans, turning leaders’ focus away from their companies and towards basic survival. “In our yearly strategic planning now, we jokingly pat ourselves on the backs that all the team members have physically survived 2022,” said Yaroslav Azhnyuk, co-founder of Petcube, one of the country’s leading startups.

As the war in Ukraine enters its second year, The Information sat down with six tech executives and founders whose businesses are based in the country, asking them to reflect on the past year of hardship and heartbreak, from holding all-hands meetings inside bomb shelters, to assisting the Ukrainian army in the war effort, to relocating whole production plants away from the frontlines.

How do you lead a team when the Slack channel is filled with harrowing stories of bombings and bodies? How do you get anything done amidst constant power outages? How do you plan for the future when even tomorrow is unguaranteed? Their stories are underlined with pain, disappointment and hope. But, as is often the case with startup narratives, there are also some unexpected triumphs.

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